Category End of Your Life Book Club

Guest blogger: Lucy Foster, Editorial Assistant, Sceptre

‘The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something lofty about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included.’

Two Roads book club, Alan Bennett, the Uncommon Reader, the Queen, The End of Your Life Book Club, bunting

a royal flush

We all love Alan Bennett. But first things first – Will and Kate are tying the knot this month so the April Two Roads Book Club was a patriotic feast of HRH bunting, regal tea towels, commemorative paraphernalia, strawberries and cream, Victoria sponge, and pictures of all of our favourite royals and their gigantic engagement rings.

We opened the discussion with thoughts of different ways in which to mark The Big Day (Cornish street parties, camping on Clapham Common, running for the hills, TV watching) and then we moved onto the book. For anyone who doesn’t know The Uncommon Reader, the first thing to mention is that it is gloriously, audaciously short – a brevity that perhaps only King Alan could get away with at £7.99. The second thing to mention, also audacious, also only excusable if carried out by a national treasure, is that it is written almost entirely from the point of view of the Queen, and in many of her own words. ‘Is one allowed to borrow a book? One is a pensioner…’.

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel BarberyGuest blogger: Valerie Appleby, Editorial Assistant, Two Roads

Marx, phenomenology,

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hubris, desire… all in the first few pages. If this sounds like your kind of book, then you would have been in the minority at the Two Roads book club meeting last Thursday. At least, right off the bat…

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, an international bestseller since 2009 and our Two Roads February book club pick, seemed at first to split the group into two camps: those staunchly opposed, who found the writing pretentious, the characters frustrating and the ‘feel’ a bit too French, and those in support, who relished the philosophical narrative and championed the main characters as they journeyed towards personal enlightenment. But after a bit of discussion, it soon became clear that aside from a couple participants who simply couldn’t get into the story, the majority of us came to like – if not love – it, perhaps

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due to a certain… je ne sais quoi (I couldn’t resist).

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Two Roads January Book Club members

The inaugural Two Roads book clubbers

Guest Blogger: Francesca Best, Assistant Editor, Hodder & Stoughton

On Friday lunchtime the inaugural Two Roads Book Club met, and over cheese and piccalilli sandwiches ten of us from Hodder, Two Roads and John Murray discussed Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. It was a choice inspired by Will Schwalbe’s End of Your Life Book Club, which will be published by Two Roads in March 2012.

Our discussion kicked off with all of us wondering why we had never heard of Stegner (an American author) before. His writing is wonderful, warm, honest, witty at times and always sensitive; Crossing to Safety has the feel of a classic. Ostensibly set over the course of one day, the story is laid out as a series of flashbacks, beginning in depression-era America, and charting practically a lifetime of its characters. It seems timeless,

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yet surprisingly it was written relatively recently, in 1987.

Crossing to Safety book coverNarrated by Larry Morgan, it follows his and

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his wife Sally’s friendship with another married couple, Sid and Charity Lang. Both men are academics, as Stegner was – in fact we wondered how much of an autobiographical element there was to the book. We agreed it was refreshing that the story involved no wife-swapping, instead the drama is provided by the ups and downs of friendship, the quiet triumphs and tragedies of normal lives.

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